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Lauren Graham And Oliver Platt Shine In Broadway's Guys And Dolls, Just Not Together

March 24th, 2009 12:15pm EDT
Lauren GrahamRemember on Seinfeld when George Costanza gave Jerry two tickets for Guys and Dolls on Broadway? I've probably seen this episode 15 times. I remember thinking: Who gives someone tickets to Guys and Dolls? Is this what people in New York City do? Also: What exactly is Guys and Dolls?

I now live in New York City; I have now seen Guys and Dolls.

There is a lot of hype surrounding this revival considering Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) and Oliver Platt (Frost/Nixon) are starring. So much, indeed, that it was next to impossible to not read, or at least hear about, a review -- especially when an unfortunate New York Times review was published. In all honesty: I think the Times was a bit harsh.

Here's the thing though: As you probably guessed, my experience with Guys and Dolls is, well (ahem) limited. I've never seen a prior production, I never saw the film with Frank Sinatra, I never read the graphic novel (there is one, right?) ... in other words: I don't know the story. Well, it's a fun story. I think it's the people that have seen past productions who will enjoy this the least, only because their memories are so ingrained. It's like those old-timers at Yankee Stadium telling the snot-nosed kids that Mark Teixeira can't hold a candle to the greatness of Joe Pepitone.

Oliver Platt as Nathan Detroit and Lauren Graham -- who looks amazing --as Miss Adelaide are both solid, individually, as their respective characters. The problem is they do not have much chemistry when they are onstage together. In fact, the entire production is kind of like that: Everyone seems to nail their part but something about the interaction with other characters is ... off. Now, there can be a lot of reasons for that; chemistry does not always come easy and the longer these actors perform together I think a lot of those problems will subside. Tituss Burgess's performance of "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" in the second act brings the stage -- and, I might add, a beautiful set -- to life and shows really what this show can be.

Guys and Dolls



Craig Bierko as Sky Masterson is the true heart of the story and Bierko does an excellent job. It's almost like personality is just expunging out of his performance and he almost saves the production by dousing the rest of the production with his enthusiasm. Almost.

Look, I am not a theatre expert; I have never claimed to be. Did I enjoy myself? Yes. Could it have been better? Yes. Will it get better? I think so. There is no doubting the talent involved and, given time, this production could, perhaps, be enjoyed by those that have (perhaps unrealistic) memories of past productions. Perhaps even by Joe Pepitone.

Mike Ryan
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at miker@starpulse.com
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